Just when you thought you were safe from Peter Mandelson up he pops again. Instead of taking Ed Miliband’s hint that he should be “packed off to an old folks home” he is setting up an international lobbying agency.
How alarmed we should be about this depends on how we interpret Neil Kinnock’s comment that “people who say Peter Mandelson is Labour’s evil genius are only half right”.
His new firm, apparently packed with former Number 10 spin doctors, will initially be restricted to advising foreign companies, thanks to Cabinet Office rules. But what kind of reception will they get when they start knocking quietly on Westminster doors and seeking favours from the Coalition?
A frosty one if David Cameron was to be believed when he said in February that “secret corporate lobbying, like the expenses scandal, goes to the heart of why people are so fed up with politics.”
He added: “It’s an issue that crosses party lines and has tainted our politics for too long…an issue that exposes the far-too-cosy relationship between politics, government, business and money. I’m talking about lobbying – and we all know how it works.
“The lunches, the hospitality, the quiet word in your ear, the ex-ministers and ex- advisors for hire, helping big business find the right way to get its way. In this party, we believe in competition, not cronyism. We believe in market economics, not crony capitalism. So we must be the party that sorts all this out.”
There’s no sign so far of them sorting any of this, according to the Alliance for Lobbying Transparency, which is calling for:
- A mandatory register of lobbyists
- Recording of all meetings and correspondence between lobbyists and elected members, officials and ministers
- Enforceable ethics rules for all lobbyists
I’ll drink to that.
GARETH WEEKES, Deep South Media